We all marry with such hope, and promise ourselves that we’ll make our marriage a success.
But then we mostly run the relationship on autopilot, and somehow expect it to take care of itself. Needless to say, that doesn’t go well, which is why so many marriages fail.
So, how can you do better?
Start by agreeing that you’ll always tell each other the truth, and work together to make that possible. For example, by never giving each other a hard time. Imagine you’re on your way home knowing that there’s something uncomfortable you should tell your partner. But then you realise that you’re going to get shouted at, and so you keep quiet. And the habit of dishonesty takes root. Lots of marriages fall apart for that reason alone.
So, always be warm towards one another; even while you’re arguing. Even if you’re normally highly reserved, independent or argumentative. It isn’t hard. Just smile lots, touch, show you’re listening and avoid being judgemental.
Think about each other’s needs, even while you’re disagreeing. Most couples fight so one wins and the other loses. Instead, find solutions where you both come out ahead.
Avoid ambushing your partner, especially over important issues, and allow them plenty of time to prepare for every discussion. By all means complain, but don’t criticise. Say how what’s happening makes you feel without blaming, describe what you want rather than what you don’t want, be clear, polite and actively search for common ground, rather than insisting on getting your way.
Make a point of responding to your partner whenever they ask for your attention, affection or support. Because that leads to emotional intimacy, more romance and a good sex life. On the other hand, not responding leads to the divorce courts, even when you’re not actually fighting.
So, choose to listen to your partner when they’re venting about a bad day, for example, instead of endlessly messing with your phone. It may not seem much at the time, but if you consistently turn away from your partner, then the whole of your marriage will gradually unravel.
It’s all too easy to focus on the negative things about your partner – those endless small things they do that annoy you – and to miss the positive things about them. The times when you laugh together, and all those hugs and kisses.
Happy spouses learn to ignore the bad stuff and focus on the good. So, if your partner is bad-tempered one day, don’t make it a big deal. Just ignore it. Then when they do something nice, say something appreciative about that. Guess what will happen? They’ll do more of the good stuff, and less of the bad.
Be reliable and trustworthy. Put each other first in everything, and spend lots of time together. Know each other’s goals, hopes and fears, and create a sense of shared purpose from them.
You’ll be surprised how good that feels. And your marriage will be one of the winners.
This article first appeared on nation.africa